Ask Fiona: My husband and I need advice on emigrating
Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week: erectile dysfunction, moving abroad and mother-in-law trouble
MY friend and I are in our 70s and both suffer from arthritis.
Our doctor has suggested we'd both do better if we lived somewhere warmer, at least for the winter months.
We don't know where to go to get reliable information on this from – can you please help?
The thought of a permanent move seems daunting, but we're so fed up with all the aches and pains.
GH & PD
FIONA SAYS: There are a number of travel companies that offer the option of long-stay holidays and, if you stick to Europe, there should be no problem with getting your pensions. You don't need to make a permanent move, just escaping the coldest winter months could make a difference, health wise.
I strongly advise you talk to a reputable one or a trusted travel agent to discuss how you should go about this. You need to consider whether or not there is a language barrier – particularly if you have health issues. You also need to think about financial arrangements, which are probably easier to resolve in Europe than if you go further afield.
There are places in Spain, for example, that are full of UK (and other northern European) pensioners during the winter months. They have the infrastructure to cope, so don't dismiss popular resorts that you might shun in the height of summer.
Finally, if you have a UK property of your own, you will need to think about insurance while you're away. Your policy could be invalid if the place is empty for a long period.
MY MOTHER-IN-LAW IS NASTY
I used to get on really well with my boyfriend's mother, but since we moved in together just over a year ago, she has become really nasty.
It's almost like she's a completely different person and has tried several times to split us up.
She's told some terrible lies to other family members and friends in an effort to turn them against us (fortunately, she hasn't succeeded).
My boyfriend and I decided we wouldn't see her at all - which is hard for him -– but she still manages to arrange "chance" meetings where she causes a scene.
We don't want to move away as we've got all our friends and family here, but what can we do?
FIONA SAYS: If her change in attitude dates from the time you moved in together, it sounds probable that it is linked to this in some way.
Does she disapprove of you living with one another – perhaps on moral grounds – or is she unable to accept her son has grown up and left home? It may be that she's jealous of your relationship, or that no one is ever going to be good enough for her son. Whatever her reasoning, if you could find out then you might be able to resolve things.
I'm glad to hear that your friends and family don't seem to have been influenced by her – could one of them act as an intermediary?
If they are not willing to intercede, a change in approach might be necessary. If you've been confrontational so far, now try a calm approach but, if you've always been calm, then stand up to her.
In the end, she is the one who is going to be hurt most and if someone can help her realise this, she might change
MY BOYFRIEND IS NOT BEING HONEST WITH ME
BECAUSE of our religious beliefs, my boyfriend and I have agreed to wait until after we're married to have a physical relationship.
He has said, though, that for him, this means if he has a casual fling with someone it doesn't matter, as he won't be in a relationship with that person. I feel a bit uneasy about this, but is it the way most single men behave?
FIONA SAYS: Absolutely not!
This makes me so cross – he is showing a complete lack of concern for your feelings and that of the other women.
I can't help but wonder if all this bravado is actually an attempt to appear more grown up and sophisticated than he really is. Either that or he's hoping to put pressure on you to put aside your beliefs .
Whatever his motive, he doesn't inspire me with confidence that he has what it takes to form a caring relationship.
Are you committed to marrying him? If you're not, I should think again.